March 6, 2016

Positively Servicing a Community and Your Soul

Faye Hochberg ‘18

Every Monday after school I go to Gregory Elementary School to volunteer for the after school program held there. I play and speak with the children for about an hour, but the impact it has on me lasts much longer.
Community service is something that both the volunteer and the community can benefit from as it will affect their lives in the most positive way.
To some people, the phrase “community service” sounds like hard work and something they may not want to try. However, if one finds something that they love to do or even have any interest in, they will discover that community service is actually quite fun. I love kids, so volunteering with them is something that I look forward to every week.
When I first enter the school, I look around to see if any of the kids need help with their homework and usually some of them do. One time, a young boy asked me to help him with his spelling words. He had written all his words backwards, so I instructed him to erase them and guided him to rewrite them. Another time I helped a girl with her math problems.
In both of these instances, it was extremely gratifying to be able to help them and see their sense of accomplishment when I told them “good job” and they saw that they had been able to do it with just a little help.
Once everyone’s homework is done, it is time to play until their parents come to pick them up. It is important for me to be there because the program is understaffed. There are only three full-time adults who work there so there is not a lot of one-on-one time with the students. Also, on the days I come, there are no other volunteers so I am very busy playing with Legos, Connect Four and coloring, all while they vy for my attention.
It is also a difficult time, especially for the younger students for several reasons. First, it is a long day for the younger ones. I don’t arrive until almost 4:30 p.m. and I stay until 5:30 p.m., so the young students who have been there since the early morning have really had enough. It is also hard for the last ones remaining to see all the other students’ parents picking up their children, while they remain longing for their parents to arrive. I am happy to be there to be able to help distract them so they don’t feel so bad.
Each week when it is time to leave, it is hard for me to believe that I had really been there an hour; the time just flies by. I feel bad when I say goodbye to the students who are still there, but I also feel so good knowing that I made their day a little happier and helped them and made them smile and laugh.
If working with children is not your thing, there are endless opportunities to help in schools, libraries, arboretums, soup kitchens, nursing homes, food pantries and more. Golda Och Academy’s Community Service Day is actually a good way to try out different types of community service that you may not otherwise try.

The saying “It is better to give than to receive” is really true. Community service is a wonderful way to give.

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